If you don't think beauty can be a political act — may we remind you that red lipstick united the suffragettes? Or that £320 million of the world's AIDS research traces back to a cosmetics company? And let's not forget about all the Muslim women, trans models and others who are finding their voice in massive, international makeup campaigns.
Today, Olivia Wilde is taking a political stand through beauty as well — by partnering with a True Botanicals, a relatively under-the-radar indie brand that's committed to challenging the unregulated cosmetics industry in the U.S. It's a bold move, especially by a woman who has long been the face of massive beauty and fashion campaigns.
"I wasn't finding the thing that was effective and non-toxic and sustainable. And I thought I was going to have to create my own," Wilde told a group of editors at the brand's launch party. "So I started learning a lot more about the beauty industry and about ingredients, thinking that this was something I was going to have to do and felt kind of daunted by it. And because I was always asking people for recommendations in that space, people would often send me things they really liked. Then a few different people told me about True Botanicals."
We talked to Wilde to find out why she chose to partner with this specific brand and what it means to her on a larger scale. Check out our conversation with the actress, below.
You went from using a few products to becoming the new Chief Brand Activist for the company. How did that happen?
"I got to meet [the founders Hillary and Christina]... and it become an emotional connection as well. I thought this is a movement and these are leaders of the movement I've been passionate about for a long time and they're actually doing it. I wanted to be a part of it."
Were you attracted to the fact that this is a women-owned company?
"It probably tipped [the decision] over the edge when I found out it was two women running this company. And it felt like everybody was doing it for the right reasons, for personal reasons, like Hillary's history with cancer and how that brought her to the natural product world and wanting something smarter and better for her family. That really affected me. My mother is a cancer survivor, so many of my friends are affected by cancer. It's something you really have to take seriously. I don't accept that we should just accept we're all going to get cancer. What is that? That's insane.
"It's not [someone's] fault that they trust that the government is protecting them. It's not their fault that they trust that if something is on a shelf that [means] it doesn't have poison in it. That's just not the case. In the [European Union] they have more than 1,300 banned ingredients. Here, we have less than 20. What the fuck is up with that?"
What made you step away from some of your bigger cosmetics campaigns and work with a smaller brand?
"I increasingly understood the power of my voice and started being really thoughtful about how I used it. I wanted, in the beauty world, to represent something that was going to move forward. I wanted to be apart of something new and innovative and my belief is that when people understand they have the ability to choose something that's a lot healthier for themselves, the environment, and that also works, that they won't go back. Then people will demand higher standards and the larger companies will have to respond to that.
Yes, I want to go testify before Congress. I want to beat the drum on this.
"It always goes back to politics. Your dollar is your vote. Our [state] representatives work for us and these large companies work for us. I always remind teenage girls that these companies are all working for you. They want to know what you want. If you demand something different, [companies] have to respond. Demand better. In order to know you can demand better, it takes companies proving that it's possible. That's what I think is so revolutionary about True Botanicals."
What will your role entail?
"There are no limits. I'm interested in being an activist in terms of just communicating information, arming consumers with the information they deserve to make better choices. That's just story-telling. That's telling my own experience through social media... even telling the makeup artists I know. Yes, I want to go testify before Congress. I want to beat the drum on this. And I think being an activist is about being honest... stepping forward and using your voice and being consistent with it."